Best Trusts and Estates Law Firms: Top Picks for Your Legal Needs

Succession and the best estates and trusts law firms in the US

From the Roys to Real Life: How These Law Firms Lead the Trust and Estates Field


Ben Thompson* When it comes to trusts and estates law, finding the right law firm is crucial for ensuring that your assets are protected and your wishes are carried out. Whether you’re looking to create a trust, draft a will, or manage the estate of a loved one, you need a law firm with the knowledge and experience to guide you through the process.

Fortunately, there are many highly-rated trusts and estates law firms to choose from. Estates attorneys are common enough, although choosing one with the expertise you’re seeking is something that requires additional effort.

These firms offer a wide range of services, from estate planning and administration to trust and estate litigation. Some of the best firms in the country have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Best Lawyers and Chambers Rankings as leaders in the field and recognized as the best law firms in this area.

When choosing a trusts and estates law firm, it’s important to consider factors such as experience, reputation, and expertise in the areas that matter most to you. Whether you’re a high net-worth individual, a business owner, or simply looking to protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

The key is often related to specific requirements.  For instance, a private foundations, nonprofit organizations, charitable organizations and the like will have different requirements from business owners or the requirements of specific family members.

Estate counsel will be focused upon different issues, depending upon the issues that are being dealt with, ranging from wealth protection to trust or estate administration issues.

Family Wealth

partnership benefits

For an estates team dealing with the wealth planning process, attorneys take into account your specific objectives, family dynamics, charitable interests, and the interplay between federal and state estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax laws with these objectives. 

Collaborating with you and other advisors as needed, they tailor a suitable plan that aligns with your goals, prepare the requisite legal documents, and facilitate the implementation of the plan. In the realm of family wealth planning, attorneys also draft trust agreements and wills, establish diverse business entities, limited liability companies, family businesses etc, and the need to execute business reorganizations.

Estate Attorneys Roles

Trust and estate attorneys are also responsible for the administration of estates, which involves consulting with the decedent’s family members on a range of matters, including a wide range of roles.  

These include aiding the executor in the preparation of necessary probate documentation and conducting valuations of estate assets,  preparing final income tax returns and the estate’s income, federal, and state estate tax returns, overseeing the investment of estate assets and more.

Throughout the estate administration process, careful consideration is given to potential income tax savings via strategic timing of distributions and appropriate deduction claims.  

Trust Administration

Best Trusts and Estates Law Firms: Top Picks for Your Legal Needs

Looking after trusts is a key element for estate attorneys and the types of trusts, ranging from grantor trusts to family partnerships, those with charitable goals and those involving wealthy individuals with specific requirements are all matters that fall to an estates law practice. 

Trust and estate attorneys provide guidance and consultation to both corporate and individual trustees regarding the fulfillment of trust terms and the fulfilment of estate administration matters. 

They also offer advice to beneficiaries on trust administration issues, including the creation of trust accounts.

In addition, these attorneys offer support to clients throughout all aspects of probate and trust litigation. This could entail interpreting or revising the terms of a will or trust, initiating or defending against a will contest, or pursuing surcharge actions against trustees.

The Best Law Firms in Estates and Trusts Law

It is clear that issues relating to trust and estates law can be particularly complex and thus the law firms thast are charged with handling matters affecting future generations and involving major tax issues, probate litigation issues, gift planning law, income taxes, charitable gifts, and all manner of other factors require some highly specialized legal knowledge.

Most mid-sized let alone big law firms will have practice areas devoted to tax law, trust and estates law, and related areas of interest.  The use of trusts to protect business interests, real estate, public charities and private charities involve a close knowledge of arcane areas of legal practice.

It behooves anyone looking at choosing a good tax or estate law firm to check carefully to ensure that there is extensive experience and a good track record of having worked in the area that specifically involves those seeking assistance in this area.

We have outlined some law firms below but depending upon the nature of the individual inquiry, the client must do his or her own checking to ensure that their specific requirements can be met by the law firm they talk to. 

With requirements that run from prenuptial agreements to annuity trusts, business succession planning and charitable trusts, private foundations and elsewhere, the need to make proper inquiry is paramount.

That said, let’s look at some of the leading law firms in this area and some tips for choosing a top law firm that has a top rated estastes practice group.

BigLaw Trusts and Estates Law Firms

As you might imagine, the largest law firms have strong ability to handle trusts and estates work.

Among 20 of the top BigLaw ‘trusts and estates’ practices are 20 of some of the most prestigious firms in the world that we have previously reported and including the following:

  1. McDermott Will & Emery LLP
  2. Holland & Knight LLP
  3. Greenberg Traurig LLP
  4. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  5. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
  6. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  7. Latham & Watkins LLP
  8. Venable LLP
  9. Proskauer Rose LLP
  10. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
  11. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
  12. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
  13. Mayer Brown LLP
  14. Jones Day
  15. Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  16. Sidley Austin LLP
  17. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  18. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
  19. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  20. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Boutique Firms With Specialist Estates and Trust Focus

There are several boutique law firms that specialize in trusts and estates work and are recognized as among the best in the United States. Some of these firms may have a narrower focus than larger firms, but they can provide highly specialized and personalized services to clients.

Here are some boutique law firms that are highly regarded for their trusts and estates work –

  1. McManus & Associates
  2. Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
  3. Withersworldwide
  4. Moses Singer
  5. Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, LLP
  6. Morris Law Group
  7. Carver, Darden, Koretzky, Tessier, Finn, Blossman & Areaux LLC
  8. Cummings & Lockwood LLC
  9. Gilmore Rees and Carlson
  10. Bagley & Rhody

This is a selection of boutique firms and there are many more who may well suit your purposes. Always make your own inquiries and use the appropriate online and reference sources to check for the firm that you believe is fit for purpose.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trusts and Estates Law Firm

Experience and Expertise

When choosing a trusts and estates law firm, it is important to consider the experience and expertise of the attorneys. Look for a firm with attorneys who have a proven track record of success in handling trusts and estates cases. It is also important to consider the specific areas of expertise of the attorneys, such as estate planning, probate, and trust administration.

Reputation and Client Reviews

The reputation of a law firm is also an important factor to consider. Look for a firm with a strong reputation in the legal community and among clients. Consider reading reviews from past clients to get an idea of their experiences with the firm.

Location and Accessibility

The location of the law firm is another important consideration. Look for a firm that is conveniently located and easily accessible. This can be especially important if you need to meet with your attorney frequently or if you need to attend court hearings or other legal proceedings.

Fees and Billing Practices

It is important to understand the fee structure and billing practices of a law firm before deciding to work with them. Look for a firm that is transparent about their fees and billing practices, and that offers reasonable rates for their services. Consider asking for a detailed breakdown of the fees and expenses associated with your case.

Best Trusts and Estates Law Firms: Top Picks for Your Legal Needs

Ben Thomson – Ben writes regularly on law firms, law marketing and legal issues for online publications, including LawFuel. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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